New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Takahe

Scientific name:

 Porphyrio hochstetteri

 

 

Conservation status:

 Endemic. Nationally critical

Mainland status:

 c. 130 in Murchison Mountains

Size:

 63cm, 3kg 

Lifespan:

 14 - 20 Years

Breeding:

 October - December

Diet:

 Grasses, fern rhizomes, snow tussocks

First introduced to Tiri:

 2 birds in 1991

Population on Tiri:

 4 pairs and a variable number of chicks and/or young adults depending on time of year

Total population:

 200+

 

Takahe - photographer: Simon Fordham
Belonging to the same family as the successful pūkeko, the takahē, sadly not so successful, was thought to be extinct until the rediscovery of c. 250 birds in the Murchison Mountains of Fiordland in 1948. Since then their numbers surviving in the wild have declined, fluctuating between 110 and 160 birds. 

The takahē has brown eyes, a scarlet red bill and shield, red legs and feet. The plumage ranges from an iridescent dark blue head, neck and breast and peacock blue shoulders to olive green and blue back and wings. They do have wings despite being flightless. The juveniles have a black bill and black plumage.

They form persistent, sometimes life-long, pairs and stray from their permanent territories only in winter in search of food, usually returning to the same territories in the summer. In the wild, takahē live in high-altitude hidden valleys, feeding on snow tussocks and on fern rhizomes. On the offshore islands and mainland sanctuaries to which they have been introduced, they survive on grasses and fern rhizomes, digesting only the plant juices and not the fibres.

Takahe (Bossy Rossy) - photographer: Max McRae
Takahē pairs call back and forth to each other in duet in a very deep resonant 'kloomph', whilst their normal contact call by day or night is a very loud, weka-like 'cooet'.

The conservation status of the takahē remains critical, despite an intensive programme over many years to try to maximise their numbers. Techniques used have included captive breeding, the removal of eggs from the wild for incubation and hand-rearing (by puppets), and the translocation of takahē to pest-free islands and protected mainland sanctuaries, from where some young birds have been moved back to the wild population in the Murchison Mountains.

Tiritiri Matangi has played its part in this programme. Two takahē, both males (Mr Blue and Stormy), were released on Tiri in 1991, followed by a female (JJ) in 1992. Further releases have occurred since then and many birds have been born on the Island. 

More detailed information about the takahē on Tiritiri Matangi can be found here, and you will find lots of information on takahē at New Zealand Birds Online and on the National Recovery Programme website.
 


Photography by: 
 Simon Fordham © (top right) and by Max McRae © (bottom left)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking
.